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EC search committee: Final names handed to president

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The search committee yesterday submitted its 10 nominations to the president for appointments to the next Election Commission, and a gazette notification in this regard is expected “within a day or two”.

The committee members, except its chief Justice Obaidul Hassan, arrived at the president’s official residence Bangabhaban at 7:30pm, said President Abdul Hamid’s Press Secretary Mohammad Joynal Abedin.

The president will pick five for the EC appointments.

After the search committee’s meeting with the president, Cabinet  Secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam told journalists, “The search Committee  submitted its report to the honourable president and he received it.  Now he [president] will review it and give the next directives soon.”

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He said, “The gazette notification will be issued within a day or two.”

When asked whether it would published yesterday, he replied, “As soon as possible.”

Asked  whether the names will be published, he said, “The rule is to publish  the names of five. You will know who will be appointed.”

According  to a Bangabhaban press release, President Abdul Hamid commended and  thanked the members of the search committee for their tireless efforts.

He  hoped that based on the recommendations of the committee, it would be  possible to form a strong and acceptable election commission which would  be able to conduct free and fair national and local elections.

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After the panel met on Tuesday at the Supreme Court Judges’ Lounge, meeting sources said, ex-bureaucrats, ex-army officials, former judges, university teachers and social workers made up the final nominations.

A source in the committee said for the post of the chief election commissioner, they proposed the names of two persons who do not have experience of serving in a bureaucratic post.

Sources close to developments said the names discussed for the next EC are: former cabinet secretary Musharraf Hossain Bhuiyan, former cabinet secretary Mohammad Shafiul Alam, former secretary Habibul Awal, ex-army chief Iqbal Karim Bhuiyan, former Public Service Commission chairman Muhammed Sadique, former secretary Ujjwal Bikash Dutta, Justice (retd) Nazmun Ara Sultana, former Dhaka University VC AAMS Arefin Siddique, DU teacher Sadeka Halim, local government expert Tofail Ahmed, President of Fair Election Monitoring Alliance Munira Khan, economist Mansur Ahmed and former principal secretary Abdul Karim.

The Daily Frontline, however, could not verify those names independently.

After formation of the search committee under the “Appointments of the Chief Election Commissioner and Other Election Commissioners Act-2022” on February 5, the panel asked political parties, professional bodies and individuals to submit their nominations.

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The committee then received 322 names.

The committee held meetings with eminent citizens, media personalities, university teachers and election experts to learn their views and suggestions over formation of the Election Commission.

Following the recommendations of them, the search panel published all 322 names but it did not publish the names of the final nominations.

Sources in the meeting said revealing the names before sending them to the president would be “discourteous”, and some quarters may also create controversy over it.

The BNP and some other opposition parties did not propose any names, citing no confidence in the search committee.

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Meanwhile, Transparency International Bangladesh in a statement demanded that the final nominations submitted to the president be published.

TIB Executive Director Iftekharuzzaman said, “We demand publishing the list of 10 nominations finalised by the search committee [as it] is in full compliance with the principles of transparency and impartiality prescribed by law.”

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Politics

Vast majority of Bangladeshis want good relations with neighbours: FM tells South Asia Correspondents

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Foreign Minister Dr Hasan Mahmud has said the vast majority of the people of Bangladesh now understand that it should have good relations with neighbours – for its own prosperity as well as that of the region.

He said his party (Bangladesh Awami League) is painted as a ‘pro-Indian’ party but AL is a pro-Bangladeshi party.

“There are anti-Indian elements. We specifically see this issue during elections. But the anti-Indian sentiment is gradually diminishing in Bangladesh,” he told the members of the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of South Asia during an interaction in New Delhi on February 9.

The Foreign Minister said the tablet or capsule of blaming Awami League as a pro-India party does not work anymore like the past.

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“Today, the vast majority of the people understand that for the prosperity of Bangladesh and the region, neighbours should have good relations,” he said while responding to a question.

Asked about balancing relations, the Foreign Minister said Bangladesh-India relationship is not comparable to any other relations.

“Bangladesh’s relations with India are bonded by blood and shared sacrifice during the War of Liberation in 1971,” Hasan said.

He said although China is not Bangladesh’s immediate neighbor but it is a neighbor and a development partner of Bangladesh.

The Foreign Minister said they face a lot of challenges due to the wave of fake news. He said this is a problem even in Europe and shared how fake news was spread during Covid-19.

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He mentioned that this is an area where all need to work together. “We can work together to fight against fake news.”

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Last national election was open for all AL members for sake of democracy: PM Hasina

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Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Saturday (9 Februay) said if she did not allow her party members to take part in last month’s election as independent candidates the democracy of the country would have been snatched away.

“If the election was not open for all (AL members), then not only the election would have been stained, the democracy of the country would have been hijacked too,” she said.

The prime minister was delivering her introductory speech at the extended meeting of Awami League at her official residence Ganabhaban.

This election was important to maintain the country’s status as a developing country, she said.

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“We should not forget the election manifesto that we announced before the election to retain this achievement. Every year during the budget formulation we follow the election manifesto,” she said.

Hasina, also the chief of ruling Awami League, said that her party has also opened the upcoming upazila elections for all her party members to make it participatory.

“It will also be scrutinised how much work has been done for the common people in the last 15 years while in power, and who could not deliver. Through it we will see who is accepted by the people,” she said.

She issued warning against any sort of confrontation in the upcoming local government elections.

“We do not want any kind of confrontation. Stern actions will be taken against the individuals responsible for it no matter who they are,” she said.

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Claiming that the 12th parliamentary election was free, fair and impartial, Hasina said that those who want to dispute the election, they must give clear evidence.

She said that elections have been held in many developed countries of the world, but these are yet to be accepted by their opponents.

“Even the post-election violence has resulted in murders. But the election in Bangladesh was very fair. Public administration, the armed forces, law and order enforcement and all those involved in the election have performed their duties impartially,” she claimed

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Political crisis nearing climax: Rizvi

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The BNP today said the country’s long-standing political crisis is now nearing its climax as people are taking to the streets risking their lives to resist a one-sided election.

“The chief election commissioner surrendered to Sheikh Hasina instead of protecting the interests of the people and taking proper steps to ensure a free, fair, and participatory election,” Ruhul Kabir Rizvi, senior joint secretary general of the party, said in a virtual press conference.

The BNP leader alleged that the EC announced the schedule for the next election ignoring the continuous movement for free and fair elections.

Rizvi also alleged that the commission announced the election schedule on the instruction of the government, ignoring the appeals of the country’s civil society, the international community, and foreign diplomats.

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“When the CEC announced the schedule, he should have also mentioned the time of voting, whether it will be at night, or during the daytime, or early morning.”

The BNP leader said the government has established a regime where those who demand free and fair elections are being attacked.

He said their ongoing movement to restore the power and rights of the people will be a warning for all the autocrats.

Rizvi said the BNP leaders and activists are being arrested indiscriminately. “If they [law enforcers] can’t detain them, they are arresting their fathers, fathers-in-law, younger brothers, and even women in the house.”

He said law enforcers arrested more than 12,900 leaders and activists in 289 cases across the country since October 28.

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